At the same time it purchased the 369-acre Crippens Creek property in Trenton, Maine, the friends group turned around and sold roughly 151 acres to the Maine Department of Transportation for the construction of the Acadia Gateway Center.
Friends of Acadia closed on the property on December 20 and finalized its 151-acre deal with MDOT on December 27.
The gateway center is slated to include a welcome center for Acadia National Park and a bus maintenance and operations facility, including offices for Downeast Transportation, Inc., the non-profit organization operating the popular, propane-powered Island Explorer bus system.
Friends of Acadia’s land acquisition was funded by major donors Mr. T.A. Cox, the Butler Conservation Fund, the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, the Thomas H. Maren Foundation and the Yawkey Foundation. Funds were also contributed by individuals through Friends’ Project Tranquility, an effort to reduce traffic and restore the quiet character of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island.
“We are grateful to our farsighted donors and partners for making this acquisition possible,” said President of Friends of Acadia Marla O’Byrne. “We are delighted to take this substantial step forward toward developing the Acadia Gateway Center.”
Friends of Acadia will retain ownership of the remaining 218 acres until permitting is complete for the gateway center. Ultimately all of the land will be sold or donated to partners for long-term protection.
As planning of the Acadia Gateway Center moves forward, Friends will continue to work with MDOT, Acadia National Park and Downeast Transportation to design a world-class welcome center to represent the park, the Island Explorer and the region.
The Acadia Gateway Center is the third phase of the Island Explorer bus system, which Friends of Acadia funds annually through grants from L.L. Bean. Since its inception in 1999, the Island Explorer has eliminated approximately 939,199 automobile trips on Mount Desert Island, a line of cars equal to a traffic jam extending down the East Coast from Bar Harbor to Key West and back up the Florida panhandle to Tampa. Already the system has reduced pollutants by 70.2 tons and greenhouse gases by 8.8 tons. Once the Acadia Gateway Center is complete, the environmental benefits will increase substantially.
“The Island Explorer and the Acadia Gateway Center provide a bright future for our region, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing a convenient way to visit Acadia and the area and reducing traffic and parking congestion in the park and our communities,” said Ms. O’Byrne. “The Acadia Gateway Center will make it possible for the Island Explorer to continue to grow and provide even greater benefits to the region.”